Dear Westfield Business and Property Owners,
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bob Zuckerman, and as of today I am the new Executive Director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation. I know what you must be thinking: what a time to start a new job as a SID director! Fortunately for us, I have over a decade of experience running business (or special) improvement districts, including my most recent stint as a longtime director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance. I also have experience in dealing with major crises, as I was the director of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District in New York City when that neighborhood was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. So, I’ve been through a major crisis before, and there’s one thing I can assure you: working in partnership with all of you and with our government leaders in Westfield, we will get through this together!
I will be reaching out to each and every one of you individually over the course of the next week or so, but I did want to make sure that you all have the most up-to-date information on the various relief programs that are now in place to help small businesses like yours. My staff, Beth Brenner and Nicki McAuliffe, and I are all working virtually, and we will do our best to help answer questions you may have about these programs. Additionally, we are recruiting volunteer financial professionals who will also help answer individual questions about applying for assistance. Lastly, there is counseling available from the Small Business Development Center and other organizations like the Women’s Business Centers which we’ll tell you about in a future email. From local to state to federal relief programs, the following is a summary of what’s currently available.
IMPORTANT: MUST SUBMIT TO THE WE LOVE LOCAL FUND CUT OFF IS TUESDAY, MARCH 31
The Westfield United Fund has partnered with the Town of Westfield to provide financial assistance to local, independently owned small businesses and their employees. Known as the We Love Local Fund, over $100,000 has been raised to date, which is really incredible. However, the fund is closing down on Tuesday, so if you haven’t yet applied for funding you must do so by the close of business on Tuesday, March 31st. The link to apply is here : https://www.westfieldunitedfund.org/request-funds.html
NEW JERSEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
The following are programs offered on the state level from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The state has put together an online eligibility wizard which can help you determine if you are eligible for any of these relief programs. Here is the wizard link which you should complete to see if your business is eligible: https://assistance.business.nj.gov/
Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program – A $5 million program that will provide grants up to $5,000 to small businesses in retail, arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, food service, and other services – such as repair, maintenance, personal, and laundry services – to stabilize their operations and reduce the need for layoffs or furloughs. 501c3 and 501c4 nonprofit organizations would be eligible to apply for this program, but home-based businesses would not be eligible. Applications are expected to open this week. We will send out the link to apply as soon as we have it. Applications will be considered on a first come, first serve rolling basis.
Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program – A $10 million program that will provide working capital loans of up to $100,000 to businesses with less than $5 million in revenues. Loans made through the program will have ten-year terms with zero percent for the first five years, then resetting to the EDA’s prevailing floor rate (capped at 3.00%) for the remaining five years. Applications are targeted to open this week. Completed applications will be considered on a first come, first serve rolling basis.
Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Emergency Loan Loss Reserve Fund – A $10 million capital reserve fund to take a first loss position on CDFI loans that provide low interest working capital to micro businesses. This will allow CDFIs to withstand loan defaults due to the outbreak, which will allow them to provide more loans at lower interest rates to microbusinesses affected by the outbreak. The Union County Economic Development Corporation (UCEDC) is a certified CDFI and may be able to offer these loans. The state is also offering the CDFIs a CDFI Emergency Assistance Grant Program which is a $1.25 million program that will provide grants of up to $250,000 to CDFIs to scale operations or reduce interest rates for the duration of the outbreak.
CARES ACT - SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
As part of the recently enacted CARES Act, the United States Small Business Association (SBA) is also offering numerous programs, which will be administered through individual lending institutions, to assist our small businesses in need.
Paycheck Protection Program – This program provides cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven, which would help workers remain employed, as well as help affected small businesses and our economy to snap-back quicker after the crisis. PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. The amount of these loans will be up to 2 ½ times your average payroll costs. This program is retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Loans are available through June 30, 2020. Businesses – including eligible non-profits, Veterans organizations, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors described in the Small Business Act – with 500 or fewer employees may apply.
You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing SBA 7(a) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. You can see the most recent SBA list of the top 100 most active lenders here: https://www.sba.gov/article/2020/mar/02/100-most-active-sba-7a-lenders
However, it is strongly advisable for you to first contact your own bank, because as a current customer you may be eligible for preferred treatment.
Small Business Debt Relief Program – This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with exisitng non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of March 27, 2020 when the bill was signed into law. Contact your current lending institution for more details.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) – These are lower interest loans of up to $2 million, with principal and interest deferment available for up to 4 years, that are available to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses. Along with EIDLs, the SBA has introduced Emergency Economic Injury Grants. These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you must first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments. To find out if your business in eligible for an EIDL, and to apply, visit https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
FREE ASSISTANCE FOR HELP WITH SBA LOANS AND GRANTS
Last, but certainly not least, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has just partnered with four statewide organizations who have agreed to assist small businesses complete their SBA loan and grant applications. This assistance of free of charge for all New Jersey small businesses, and you do not have to be a member of any of these organizations to receive assistance. We’ll have more contact info for you later this week but you can contact them through their websites right away.
I hope this information has been helpful for you, and I look forward to being in contact with you individually. Until then stay strong and, together, we will come out on the other side of this crisis stronger than ever.
Downtown Westfield Corrporation